How A Stranger In The Psych Ward Gave Me Hope

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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When you're the parent of a child with mental illness, you understand dark places, and you find encouragement from the most unlikely people, in the most unlikely places. Strangers become friends, acquaintances become brothers and sisters, wounded parents on the same road as you, become comrades.

I hear the cold click as the steel door latches behind me. My hand slips into my pocket. I don’t need the key yet but I pull it out anyway. I begin twirling it between my thumb and forefinger. I notice the woman in front of me.

The elevator is taking an unreasonably long time to travel between the floors. It gives me time to really look at her. She is nicely dressed and pretty. Her dainty ballet flats compliment her tall lean frame. She has on delicate silver hoop earrings that accent her neatly straightened hair. Under different circumstances, I might be a little envious.

The ding of the elevator breaks the silence and she steps in before me. We turn to face each other and the doors swish shut. On further examination I realize I know her. We’ve never met but I see something familiar in her.

Her shoulders are slumped, arms hanging lose, eyes unfocused on the present…lost somewhere in a memory perhaps. Weariness etches her face. I know how she feels. I imagine I look the same. The years of carrying this burden have taken their toll.

It’s too much. Her carefully covered heartbreak has been revealed. I feel as if I have accidently stolen something intimate. I look quickly away. As the elevator descends, the weight of our shared circumstance bares down on my heart. I watch one single tear splash onto her shoe.

“This isn’t how I saw life going,” I offer. I’m surprised to hear my own voice and even more surprised to hear my own honesty. I fuss with the key again and she wrings her hands. “Me either,” she sighs. I slip the key back into my pocket. We talk a moment longer, sharing stories of how we came to be here.

As the elevator door slides open, we walk out side by side. Two mothers, one story. One shared experience within a lifetime of isolation.

We each pull out our keys and retrieve our belongings. “Good luck,” I say, for lack of something better. “You too,” she whispers. I press my hand to the glass as I wait for the receptionist to unlock the door. I trace the raised letters with my thumb.

 Adolescent Psychiatric Ward

I walk briskly to my car allowing the restrained tears to escape. I cry for us both. I cry for our sons plagued by an illness that no one understands. I weep for our loneliness. I weep for the stranger I just met. I weep for my friend.

Mike and I have chosen to share openly on Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. We feel that no parent should walk this journey alone, no matter what the circumstance. If you have a similar story we want you to know that you are not alone. We are in the trenches of parenting children with mental illness and special needs with you.

Do you feel alone? Share your story with us.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.